By Richard Mammah
After months of slugging it out on the campaign trial, Professor Chukwuma Soludo has finally emerged as Governor-Elect in Nigeria’s South Eastern State of Anambra.
Evidently, the victory took the shine off other contending matters in the news, including the tough challenges on the economic front as symbolised by the soaring cost of cooking gas. Not even the lingering trial of Independent People of Biafra leader, Nnamdi Kanu could for a minute rival it at that moment.
Post-victory, the Governor-Elect has been making what seems to be the right noises. First he has attributed his victory to the almighty God and then the good people of Anambra state. He has asked his challengers to come work with him.
But it is also not yet uhuru for the Nigerian polity. On the same day when the sweet victory came for the former Central Banker for example, governors and lawmakers were to be seemingly locked in a conflict over which model of political party primaries should hold sway in the political field going forward. There are also many other political booby traps, including continuing disputations over now to manage the overarching question of getting a successor to incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari, continuing attacks from the terrorist ISWAP group and the insistence of the Pan-Yoruba group, Afenifere that a programme of national restructuring should yet precede the 2023 polls.
But for the people of Anambra, gone at the moment is the threat of a possible state of emergency. And they can now more calmly settle in to addressing all the other challenges that await the Governor-Elect.
Part of what made the Anambra contest an issue was the violence that was in the air ahead of the polls. But there was also a feeling that the All Progressives Congress, APC, which holds the levers of power at the federal level, wanted to go for broke and take the state from the All Progressives Grand Alliance, APGA that had held sway there across the past 16 years. That however proved to be a far cry as APGA’s Soludo conveniently took 19 of the 21 council areas in the state, leaving one each, not even for the APC but rather the Young Peoples Party and the Peoples Democratic Party.
But beyond the politics of Anambra, what is the biggest positive takeaway for the Nigerian political process from Soludo’s emergence as Governor-Elect, more so as the much awaited General Elections are even now in closer focus?
Tony Opara responds:
‘What Soludo’s emergence tells Nigerians is that when people are determined they will get what they want. Anambra people were determined not to have an APC administration in their state so the vote against its candidate, Senator Andy Uba was a vote against APC as well as a vote against Chris Uba who had allegedly engineered a destruction of government property during the tenure of former Governor Chris Ngige, with Andy Uba, who was in government at the centre then, also allegedly giving tacit support. Obviously, the people of Anambra didn’t forget and used this election to say so. His coming third in the race was a message that impunity has no place in the state. We must commend the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC for being an umpire that didn’t take sides. The failure of technology witnessed during the process was not entirely their making as it affected the candidates equally but it’s obvious that in a general election, this failure will be disastrous so INEC needs to get their acts together especially given the large sums of money being doled out to them. The Anambra election also sends a clear message to political parties to do the right thing. Check the votes Andy Uba got in the APC primaries compared to what he got in the election. Something clearly is amiss there. Political parties must stop subverting the process.’
On his part, the political affairs commentator and Associate Professor of Law at Baze University, Abuja, Dr Sam Amadi remarked:
‘The biggest takeaway is that electoral processes are becoming less and less manipulable by politicians as technology comes to improve the governance and integrity process. Again, we see that unless we can build Political countervailing forces we may not defeat the political manipulations of ruling parties. You need to have some degree of balance of strength to secure democracy. That strength may come from civil society or strong opposition parties. I think a strong opposition party supported by vigilant civil society will be key.’
A word they say is enough for the wise.